The Arabic word ‘Muslim’ literally means someone in submission to the will and law of God. The Message of Islam has always been universal and meant for all people. Anyone who accepts this Message becomes a Muslim. One out of four persons on this Earth is a Muslim. There are 1.8 billion followers which equate to about 24% of the global population. While Islam is the world’s second-largest religion, after Christianity, Islam is the fastest growing religion. Muslims are projected to surpass Christians around 2070 as the largest religious group in the world.
While much may associate the religion of Islam with countries in the Middle East, only 18% of Muslims are Arabs & 82% of Muslims are non-Arabs. Muslims represent the majority population in fifty-six countries. The Muslim population is a diverse community of believers spanning the globe. There are many Muslims who live in Europe, South East Asia, & in the West. Islam is not limited to one ethnicity or group of people. Muslims are made up of people from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, races, cultures, and national origins. Whereas there are more Christians than Muslims, the religion that has the most followers practicing their faith and its rituals is Islam. There is a higher percentage of Muslims practicing Islam than Christians practicing Christianity.
A Muslim is a person who submits his or her will to Almighty God, as he acknowledges that God knows what’s best for him; so, he follows God’s commandments for his own best interest. A Muslim is someone who lives to attain a higher purpose in life. A Muslim lives to better himself and the things around him. A Muslim lives following God’s commandments so he can live a peaceful and happy life in this world, and so he can prepare himself for eternal joy in the next world.
In Islam, worshipping God comprises every act, belief, statement, or sentiment of the heart which God approves and loves. Anything that brings a person closer to His Creator would be considered an act of worship. It includes physical and external forms of worship like the daily ritual prayers that Muslims are prescribed to do, fasting, and charity. It also contains internal worship such as faith in the Angels, God’s Books, and His Prophets. Acts of worship also include the loving of God, gratitude, reverence, and reliance on God. God is worthy and entitled to worship by the body, soul, heart & mind.
In Islam, a Muslim is not someone who just knows the truth; a Muslim is someone that submits to the fact. A Muslim is someone that believes in God and Follow God’s commands. Islam stresses belief does not just mean believing in one’s heart, but also acting on the belief. Mere faith counts for nothing if not carried into practice. The purpose of Islam is not merely knowledge, it is the submission, and no belief or knowledge by itself can bring salvation. Even Satan believes in God as he has spoken to God. The Quran records a dialog between Satan and his Lord:
“He said, “My Lord, then reprieve me until the Day they are resurrected. [ Allah ] said, “So indeed, you are of those reprieved. Until the Day of the time well-known.” [Satan] said, “My Lord, because You have put me in error, I will surely make [disobedience] attractive to them on Earth, and I will mislead them all Except, among them, Your chosen servants” (Quran 15:36-40)
However, Satan disobeyed his Lord and refused, stubbornly and arrogantly to prostrate when his Lord commanded him to which showed a severe nature of arrogance, self-admiration, and pride. The fact that Satan believed in the existence of God without rightful action, did not benefit him. Satan became amongst the disbelievers because his belief was canceled out by his pride, arrogance, stubbornness, and his poor behavior before his Lord. Belief in God and action complement each other and are intertwined. Love manifests itself in action and belief in the heart results in good actions. If a man truly loves God, he would show it in his obedience to God’s commandments to earn God’s pleasure.
Islam states that both inner beliefs, and outward actions, make up what is known in Islam as ‘Iman’ which translates to faith. When Muslims obey God’s commandments, it does not deny them pleasures of this world. God made humans the successors of this Earth, God states in the Quran:
“And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the Earth a successive authority…” (Quran 2:30)
Islam states humans have been put here on Earth by God and they are to use the material means to build a positive life in this temporary world which will eventually lead them to a positive eternal life in the Hereafter. God states:
“But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done well to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters” (Quran 28-77)
Islam does not take the ability and the right to live well in this world. Instead, Islam teaches every experience one has in this world should be more than just that feeding moment. This world is much more than just living to entertain oneself and to accumulate material goods. A Muslim lives for a more superior and compelling reason. A Muslim lives to find purpose in his life and that purpose is to discover who created him, determine how his Creator wants him to live, and to build a relationship with him.
The opposite of a Muslim is a ‘Kafir.’ The Quran warns one against being a kafir. The word kafir occurs over 150 times in the Holy Quran. The word kafir refers to something that is covered up or concealed. For instance, a farmer is also called kafir in the Arabic language–because a farmer covers seeds in the earth. The Qu ran uses the word kafir to describe a disbeliever because a kafir is one that is insincere in their life; deliberately rejecting the truth which they covered despite knowing its truth. A kafir is also someone that refuses to question the beliefs taught to them during their childhood. They blindly follow their forefathers without thinking, reflecting and pondering over their beliefs. They do not search for the truth.
The word kafir in the west is usually translated to an infidel which is not the proper definition. The word infidel means someone who does not believe in God, whereas a kafir is someone that denies, conceals, or refuses the truth. A kafir is someone that rejects the truth or knows the truth but refuses to act upon it. A disbeliever is also someone that is ungrateful; who lives, hide, or cover in the darkness of ignorance.
Islam does not teach to hate non-Muslims. Islam came to bring dignity to all human beings. The Quran explicitly states that the children of Adam are honored. God has given respect to all sons of Adam which would include every human. If God gives them respect, we certainly need to respect them. God States:
“And We have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference” (Quran 17:70)
The term ‘Children of Adam’ which God uses to refer to humanity, excludes any discrimination based on race, color, or gender. Human dignity is universal since all human beings are descendants of Adam. God also commanded His Angels to prostrate themselves in humility before Prophet Adam peace be upon him, the father of humanity, when he was created to elevate the status and honor of humanity. Also, God mentions in the Quran how He has honored the sons of Adams and made them noble by creating them in the best fashion and most perfect forms.
“We have certainly created man in the best of stature” (Quran 95:4)
God is very explicit in the Quran about treating non-Muslims poorly that even if one’s parents are idol worshippers and forcing them to worship false gods, one should not worship those gods but should treat their parents with the utmost respect and love.
During the time of our Prophet, Prophet Muhamad peace be upon him was sitting with his companions when a funeral service passed in front of them. Prophet Muhammad stood up. Then, one of his companions ask him, ‘why are you standing? This is the funeral service of a Jew’ Prophet Muhammad replied, ‘Was it not a soul?’ He was teaching his companions that all humans are valuable.
Islam teaches that the only real criterion by which one surpasses another is that of piety, God-consciousness in actions, and righteousness.
“O mankind, indeed, We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted” (Quran 49:13)
A Muslim is someone that doesn’t make wealth, health and power his or her ultimate aims of in life. Whereas Muslims use these to live; it’s not their aim or goal. Muslims have a much bigger aim in life than the gathering of perishable material goods.
Since the life of Prophet Muhammad is filled with countless examples that show his status as a role model for humanity for all, including societies and individuals, one can find truths in Prophet Muhammad’s life that make up an example for them to follow. His life was full of good manners, superior morality, generously, good habits, politeness, respect, gentleness, noble feelings and wisdom from God, all of which help mankind live a better, peaceful, and more comfortable life full of good.
Emulating the Prophet would also help one from falling into error or sin. Prophet Muhammad is the sacred model for humanity to emulate and follow his footsteps as he was sent by God the All-Generous as an example of how one should live his life to the best of his ability. Thus, Muslims study the Biography of the Prophet Muhamad which they call Seerah. Muslims believe the most accessible road to goodness, moral excellence, and success in this life and the afterlife comes through an emulation of the Prophet. Muslims emulate Muhammad’s faith, behavior, attitude, manners, patience, compassion, piety, and even daily tasks like the way he ate, drank, slept, interacted with others, etc. The teachings of Prophet Muhamad acts as a mercy and a healing for all of humanity.
A Muslim is someone that continually tries to improve him or herself and tries to perfect his manners. Islam stresses the importance of ethical behavior. A Muslim is one that treats his parents, spouse, children, and family kindly. Islam forbids Muslims from mistreating and being unjust to their parents or family and made it compulsory for one to treat them with all goodness and mercy.
“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word” (Quran 17:23)
Islam incorporates a basic set of rules designed to protect the rights and freedoms of individuals and communities. The Islamic concepts of freedom, human rights, and the ability for one to live in a secure community are embedded in and granted by Islamic law called the Sharia. One of the greatest sins one can commit to Islam is intentionally taking One’s life unless it’s for a just cause.
A Muslim is one that gives charity, helps the needy, the poor, and orphans. Giving to the needy is not just recommended by Islam; it is required of every financially stable Muslim. Zakat (alms-giving) is an obligation for those who have been blessed with wealth from God to respond to those members of the community in need. A Muslim is one that lives with humility and does not live with pride or arrogance. Nor is a Muslim boastful or vainglorious. Islam condemns pride and self-righteousness.
“And do not walk upon the Earth exultantly. Indeed, you will never tear the Earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height” (Quran 17:37)
Islam teaches Muslims the best way to greet his fellow brother or sister is with the Islamic greeting of ‘As-Salam Alaykum’ which translates to ‘peace be upon you’ which grants the other for protection, safety, security, and mercy from evils and faults. The name ‘Al-Salam’ is one of the names of God in Arabic, so it also means ‘May the blessing of His Name (God) descend upon you.’
No matter what nationality, ethnicity or color a Muslim brother or sister may be, it is an obligation for one to greet his fellow brother or sister as a family since all Muslims share the belief in One God and the last and final Prophet and Messenger Muhamad.
Muslims are obligated to spread the word of Islam to others which is called Da’wah in Arabic. Da’wah translates to mean, ‘to call or to invite’. In the Islamic context, the word refers to calling, conveying, inviting people towards the Message of Islam, towards God, towards the Truth, towards the right path prescribed by the Almighty for all of mankind. The call of Da’wah invites, inclines, and encourages people to voluntarily submit to the Will of Allah, by worshipping Him alone and following His commandments.
“Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair preaching, and argue with them in the best manner possible…” (Quran 16:125)
Whereas Islam states guidance only comes from God, and no one can embrace Islam except with the permission and will of the Almighty, Muslims are still obligated to convey the message of Islam according to their capacity and circumstance. Muslims also remind, re-educate, and motivate current non-practicing to become better Muslims. According to Allah the Glorious, no one has a better speech than those who engage in calling upon others to his religion and way of life of Islam. The Quran says:
“And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah and does righteousness and says, “Indeed, I am of the Muslims” (Quran 41:33)
There is no one whose speech is better than that of a person who calls people to the truth, for he is their guide to their Creator and Lord who removes people from their darkness of misguidance into the light of faith.